WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Body cams: Politically popular. Widely adopted. Questionably effective. A recent survey found 91 percent support for requiring police officers to wear cameras that record their actions during stops, and many police departments have been open to adopting the policies — one estimate calculated that close to half of law enforcement agencies across the country have them. But a meta review of 30 studies published earlier this month showed why the technology is no panacea, “Body cameras do not have clear or consistent effects on officers’ use of force, arrests, or other activities.” Another new study pointed out a further breakdown between promise and reality. “BWCs [body-worn cameras] can’t increase transparency if agencies don’t release footage of critical incidents,” wrote Justin Nix, a co-author of the research. “Ironically, then, BWCs reduce transparency if agencies have them but fail to release footage of critical incidents quickly.” The scholars found that political considerations colored which footage got released and which were withheld from the public. What now? The authors found that only a minority of the police leaders they surveyed supported the universal release of body camera footage. Establishing consistent standards may require action by lawmakers. “If BWC footage is to increase accountability…the impetus for moving beyond case-by-case decision-making will have to come from outside of policing, most likely from legislators.”
Defund the police? Most big cities increased their budgets this year. The reform framework has catalyzed activists and drawn the ire of a Trump administration that says it may withdraw federal funds from cities that shrink their police departments. But a Bloomberg CityLab analysis shows that 34 of the largest 50 American cities with finalized 2021 budgets have actually opted to boost police spending or keep it level as a percentage of discretionary spending.
- In some places, the added dollars are going to changes like deescalation training.
- And, yes, body cameras.
“These are systems that have been around forever, and they’re all intertwined, and so trying to dismantle that is the process that’s going on right now,” said one expert on equity in law enforcement. “What you hear is the pain of wanting that to happen immediately.”
Louisville, Kentucky, girds for a decision in Breonna Taylor investigation. The city’s mayor announced a state of emergency and police closed down parts of downtown in an attempt to constrain protests ahead of a possible announcement in the state attorney general’s criminal inquiry of the officers involved in the fatal police shooting. (Neither the AG’s office nor city leaders offered a specific timetable for a decision.) “This is certainly an over-response to the local protests that have been happening in our community,” the head of a local nonprofit told The Associated Press. Meanwhile: “As homicides soar to record numbers, Louisville still lacks a firm plan to stop the violence,” reports The Courier Journal.
He was shot in Kenosha. Then the threats began. Gaige Grosskreutz was the lone survivor of last month’s triple shooting by a 17-year-old during citywide protests and unrest. He told USA Today about the online harassment that he and his loved ones have received from white supremacists. “That’s the thing that affects me,” he said, “seeing the people that I care about be upset for me, scared for me. I just don’t understand the need to target people who weren’t even there.”
Salt Lake City releases video footage of police shooting of boy with autism. The incident made national headlines after a mother called 911 about her 13-year old suffering a mental crisis, and police ended up shooting him nearly a dozen times; he remains hospitalized. In the footage, the mother is seen telling the responding officers that she wanted her son hospitalized, but that the arrival of officers had also “triggered” her son. Before the violent conclusion, the officers can be see debating whether to approach the boy and worrying that it might end with a shooting.
Fewer than one-third of crime victims reported getting any kind of recovery assistance, according to a recent national survey. [Alliance for Safety and Justice]